April-July, 1945: Battle of Okinawa Summary

  • Last updated on November 11, 2022

On April 1, some 60,000 U.S. troops landed, largely unopposed, on Okinawa. Intense fighting began a few days later when the Americans reached the strong, inland Japanese fortifications. Grueling ground combat raged throughout the spring until the last line of significant Japanese defenses, led by General Mitsuru Ushijima, was overcome on June 22.

On April 1, some 60,000 U.S. troops landed, largely unopposed, on Okinawa. Intense fighting began a few days later when the Americans reached the strong, inland Japanese fortifications. Grueling ground combat raged throughout the spring until the last line of significant Japanese defenses, led by General Mitsuru Ushijima, was overcome on June 22.

The naval portion of the war was similarly bloody and drawn out. The Japanese launched several thousand aircraft and one naval task force against the Americans, led by Admiral Chester W. Nimitz. The task force was intercepted and routed, and the largest battleship in the world, the Yamato, was sunk on April 7. However, nearly 2,000 missiles and kamikaze (suicide planes) helped cause the worst U.S. naval losses in history.

An American Corsair fighter plane unloads a volley of rockets against a Japanese position on Okinawa. At ground level, smoke can be seen rising from a battle in which U.S. Marines are fighting. (National Archives)

By the time the battle was officially declared over on July 2, the United States had suffered 12,281 dead, more than 50,000 wounded and other casualties, 763 planes lost, and 36 ships sunk and 368 damaged. Japanese losses included 110,071 killed, 7,401 captured, 7,830 planes lost, and 16 ships sunk and 4 damaged. Okinawa was the bloodiest campaign of the Pacific war, and the high casualty rate was influential in the decision to drop the atomic bomb on Japan.

Categories: History Content